Saturday, May 7, 2016

2016_05_07 Ride to The Carbon River Entrance to Mt. Rainier and Back

Author:  Mike Hassur

This ride to The Carbon River Entrance to Mt. Rainier and back is usually our first ride of the year (this year, it was our second official ride as we had a new ride on the Kitsap Peninsula two weeks ago).  By design, this ride is meant to be sort of bland.  It is not particularly long, it is not as scenic as some of our rides later in the summer, and it is not nearly as challenging as some of our other rides.  The goals of these early season rides are to enjoy seeing guys whom we haven’t seen over the winter, to help us regain some fitness, to have fun, and to have the riders feel pretty good about themselves at the end of the ride.  We don’t want people “bonking” and being discouraged.  Even though this ride is not particularly spectacular, it seems like most of the participants have a blast doing it each year.

This year the plan was to meet in Orting and to be leaving by 7:00 AM.  I left home on my bike around 6:25 AM.  The ride to Orting was uneventful (the most exciting thing being honked at by Martin as he passed me on his way to Orting).  Usually, there are quite a few riders on this ride.  When I arrived in Orting, there were only a few guys there:  Craig Hill, Adam Abrams (a friend of Craig’s who joined us), Les Becker, Leon Matz, Martin Katzberg, and Kurt Maute.  Soon after my arrival, Nick Iverson and Lanny Moore showed up. Lanny said that there had been an auto accident that blocked his normal route to Orting.  He had seen John Winter stopped in traffic as well.  By 7:20 AM, we were ready to head out.  John Winter arrived just as we were starting to leave Orting.  He said to go ahead and that he would catch up with us. 

The weather forecast was perfect – mid-50’s when we left Orting with a high predicted to be in the 70’s and 0% chance of rain.  We headed out along the Carbon River on the trail to South Prairie.  About half way to South Prairie, I turned around to go back and check on John Winter.  It turned out that he was just a few minutes behind the group.  John and I rode together and found the group waiting for us in Wilkeson.  After a short break for food, drink, and bathroom in Wilkeson; we had an uneventful climb up to Carbonado.  I like this climb, because it is not too steep.  It is fairly easy to maintain a reasonable pace going up the hill without feeling like you are about to “blow up” (the same cannot be said for the Tubbs Road Hill that we climbed near South Prairie).

We passed Carbonado and were heading toward the Fairfax Bridge when we saw fellow Cyclopaths Erik Barrett and Aaron Gerry heading in the other direction.  Since they had to work later that morning, they had started considerably earlier than our group and were on their way back to Orting.  After a brief stop and visit, we were on our way again.  We headed over the Fairfax Bridge, climbed a short distance, and took the left fork at the “Y” that leads to the Carbon River Entrance (left) or Mowich Lake (right).  
Fairfax Bridge

From there, it was 7-8 miles of rolling terrain to The Carbon River Entrance to Mt. Rainier.  We saw another Cyclopath, Mark Delrosario, in this section. Mark had left before us and was heading back along with quite a few other cyclists who had headed out earlier than us.  Also, it was in this section that our pace really picked up [ I blame Craig and Adam :) ], and the group with whom I was riding was whittled down to Les, Craig, Adam, and me (there may have been another guy or two with us, but I was a little low on oxygen and wasn’t processing very well by the time we arrived at our destination).  It was really fun, but I was privately hoping that it wouldn't make the return trip miserable - thankfully, it didn't.

Soon after our arrival, the rest or our group rolled in.  Once again; it was a short break for food, drink, and bathroom before we headed back. 

Mike, Nick, Leon, John, Craig, Martin, Les, and Adam (Kurt and Lanny not pictured) at The Carbon River Entrance to Mt. Rainier...

Heading back across the Fairfax Bridge...
There are a number of long, gradual downhills on the way back to the Fairfax Bridge.  It was fun flying along these sections and making our way up the gentle climbs that are also found in this part of the route.  Once past the Fairfax Bridge, it was pretty much downhill all the way to Wilkeson.  From Wilkeson; we passed through Burnett and South Prairie on our way back to Orting.

For the riders who started in Orting, the ride was about 51 miles long.  For those of us who started in Puyallup, it was around 70 miles long, and for Leon – who put in extra mileage before and after the ride – it was 130 miles long!!  The main thing was that everyone had smiles on their faces at the conclusion of the ride which was the main goal.

Our next ride is in two weeks:  The Alder Lake Loop (with an optional trip up The Climb).

Can’t wait!!

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